Random BedHead Ed writes: "When BlueWiki posted documents about reverse engineering the iTunesDB format used on iPods late last year, Apple demanded that the content be removed, citing the DMCA's prohibition on circumventing copy protection. BlueWiki removed the content, but yesterday they filed suit against Apple seeking a declaratory judgment that the discussions did not violate the DMCA. ZDNet quotes EFF's Fred von Lohmann, who says that this is an issue of censorship. "Wikis and other community sites are home to many vibrant discussions among hobbyists and tinkerers. It's legal to engage in reverse engineering in order to create a competing product, it's legal to talk about reverse engineering, and it's legal for a public wiki to host those discussions." More info on the EFF's website."
Random BedHead Ed writes: "ArsTechnica has a piece on the collision of patent holders and innovators in the battle to reshape patent law in the US, where the USPTO has a million-patent backlog and lawsuits by "Non-Practicing Entities" (read: patent trolls) abound. The article reports that earlier this week "a bipartisan group of legislators resurrected the Patent Reform Act.... The reforms have been widely welcomed by major tech and software firms and their trade associations--among them Google, Apple, Microsoft, Symantec, Intel, and the Business Software Alliance. But they face stiff opposition from biotech and pharmaceutical firms--not to mention patent trolls fearful of seeing their cash cow vanish." Not surprisingly, the means of calculating damages in patent suits is a major bone of contention."
Random BedHead Ed writes: "After a premature announcement yesterday and a reaction from Mozilla today, I'm actually typing this in Google Chrome, which is really and truly available now. Features include the Webkit rendering engine, a new layout that maximizes page size by eliminating the title and status bars and keeping the address bar within tabs, profile importing for Firefox, and a bunch of other things you probably already know about by now."
Random BedHead Ed writes: "Yahoo! has officially rejected Microsoft's $39.4 billion takeover bid, but stressed that they could negotiate with the Redmond giant if they raised the bid's value. The letter from chairman Roy Bostock states that Yahoo! is "open to all alternatives that maximize stockholder value... and we will not allow you or anyone else to acquire the company for anything less than its full value." Yahoo!'s stock price has risen since Microsoft's original offer, and their letter may be a response to Redmond's threat to take the proposal directly to the shareholders this past weekend."
Random BedHead Ed writes: Ben Stein's new film Expelled: No Intelligence allowed deals with the plight of Intelligent Design supporters in schools when the field of biology is dominated by scientists who believe in evolution. Thursday evening the film's producers held a free advance showing. Biologist and University of Minnesota professor PZ Meyers tried to attend the showing, but was... er, expelled. Apparently the film's producers had given theater owners Meyers' photo and told them bar him from entering, despite Meyers having received an e-mail message stating that tickets were not required, and despite his appearing in the film itself. The funny twist? They didn't notice that prominent biologist and vocal atheist Richard Dawkins was standing right next to him. Dawkins went unnoticed throughout the film, which ironically is about fighting censorship, and had a few things to say to the director at the film's conclusion.
"The government has decided that all information on governmental websites should be available in the open formats HTML, PDF or ODF. With this decision, the times when public documents were only available in Microsoft's Word format comes to an end."
The mandate also specifies that HTML should be use for general posting of information on the Web, PDF should be used when page layout must be preserved, and ODF should be used when providing forms for citizens to fill out."
Random BedHead Ed writes: "Good news everyone. After a five year vanishing act the sci-fi spoof Futurama returned this week with a direct-to-DVD feature. Wired has an article about its return, including the story of the show's origins, a behind the scenes gallery, interviews with creators Matt Groening and David X. Cohen, and some interesting trivia (Did you know the ship has an overbite like a Simpson's character? Or that the show's title is taken from an exhibition at the 1939 Worlds Fair?)."
Random BedHead Ed writes: "Cory Doctorow has an interesting new article in Information Week about the downside of social networking, with a focus on Facebook. While it starts with some minor but insightful quibbles (like "the steady stream of emails you get from Facebook: 'So-and-so has sent you a message.' Yeah, what is it? Facebook isn't telling — you have to visit Facebook to find out"). But then it gets into a more social critique of social networking: 'Imagine how creepy it would be to wander into a co-worker's cubicle and discover the wall covered with tiny photos of everyone in the office, ranked by "friend" and "foe," with the top eight friends elevated to a small shrine decorated with Post-It roses and hearts.' Do you really want to add your boss and coworkers to your friends list? (And more to the point, do you really have a choice?)"
Random BedHead Ed writes: "The Guardian this week has a call to arms, examining the ten steps to fascism and proposing that America is quietly taking virtually all of them. It's not as much of a partisan concern as you might think: many conservative groups have joined forces under a new organization called the American Freedom Agenda, which along with the ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights has been fighting to put pressure on the federal government to pull the country away from what they see as a slippery slope. From the article: "As Americans turn away quite leisurely, keeping tuned to internet shopping and American Idol, the foundations of democracy are being fatally corroded. Something has changed profoundly that weakens us unprecedentedly: our democratic traditions, independent judiciary and free press do their work today in a context in which we are "at war" in a "long war" — a war without end, on a battlefield described as the globe, in a context that gives the president — without US citizens realising it yet — the power over US citizens of freedom or long solitary incarceration, on his say-so alone.""
Random BedHead Ed writes: "Wired is running a thought-provoking article on Sony that suggests that not only is it important to the company that their upcoming console/media center/Blu-Ray vehicle be successful; it might easily make or break the company. Amid a nice summary of the company's technology strategies over the past few decades, from its pre-digital days to competing with Sega and Microsoft in the gaming world, the article claims that "having ceded to Apple the portable-music-player market, Sony desperately needs to stay on top in videogames. It's not just that Sony needs a win; PS3 is critical to its entire strategy.""